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Building tomorrow’s Air Force: multi-capable, language-enabled Airman

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alysa Calvaresee

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – At the age of 16, a girl migrated from the Philippines to the United States in order to pursue a better life.

She has since attended college, joined the Air Force and is now pursuing a special duty assignment to expand her language skills and work abroad.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Myka Torres, a 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron base defense operations center controller, shared her experience of becoming a more multi-capable Airman while serving in the military.

“I am filled with a mix of excitement, gratitude, and nerves as I embark on this new opportunity,” said Torres. “While the role may differ from my current responsibilities in security forces, I view it as a significant stepping stone toward achieving my future goals.”

Torres was selected for a Defense Attaché special duty assignment with the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Attachés function as diplomatic links between embassies and host-nation defense establishments. They help build and sustain key international relationships that enable the Department of Defense global operations and directly support overseas contingency operations.

In addition to her new assignment, she previously attended the Language Enabled Airman Program that is managed by the Air Force Culture and Language Center.

LEAP is a career-spanning program designed to strengthen Airmen's language and cultural capabilities. The program aims to cultivate leaders with cross-cultural competence capable of fulfilling the global mission requirements of the Air Force. Since becoming a LEAP scholar in 2020, she has specialized in her native language of Tagalog.

“LEAP helped me to invest more in my personal growth and improvement,” said Torres. “Interacting with multilingual personnel encourages me to enhance my interpersonal connections, promotes a better cultural understanding and offers practical benefits.”

She stated how in several instances, her proficiency in Tagalog and other Filipino dialects enabled her to effectively communicate and navigate challenging situations, thereby demonstrating the importance of effective multilingual communication.

The ability to communicate effectively across different linguistic backgrounds eliminates the need for interpreters, facilitating a clearer exchange of information and proving to be significantly more efficient.

“Multilingual personnel possess enhanced communication skills, allowing them to bridge the language gaps,” said Tech. Sgt. Shelby Allio Easom, 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron flight sergeant and Torres’ direct supervisor. “Their proficiency in multiple languages provides a level of cultural sensitivity that proves effective in the workplace.”

Allio Easom highlighted Torres' demonstration of cultural awareness among team members, effectively navigating cultural differences and resolving conflicts. Her ability to lead by recognizing and respecting diverse viewpoints has ultimately elevated team dynamics, improved decision-making processes, and contributed to cultivating a more productive work environment.

“Her understanding of culture and language drives success when it comes to forming bonds within our team,” stated Allio Easom. “It leverages her linguistic diversity as an advantage and nurtures a more cohesive work environment while encouraging creativity and innovation from a well-rounded perspective.”

The Air Force continues to build multi-capable Airmen, such as Torres, through language-based programs in order to enhance global communication, foster cultural understanding, and empower personnel with the diverse skills needed to navigate complex international environments and missions.

“Never doubt your capabilities because you’re the only one who could see your qualities,” said Torres. ”Always look forward to what you could have and offer, because knowledge and experience is the power for success.”

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